Nathan Smith Davis, MD, founded the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1847 when he was just 30 years old. As a young doctor in western New York in 1844, Davis was elected to serve in the New York Medical Society, where he worked to improve medical education and licensure. A year after his election, Davis introduced a resolution endorsing the establishment of a national medical association to "elevate the standard of medical education in the United States." Davis and others led the establishment of the AMA in the following year.
Dr. Davis and his colleagues set very high goals for this new association to advance the science of medicine, to improve the standards for medical education, to develop a program of medical ethics, and to improve the health of the public. The founders reached those goals and set standards that have been upheld by the AMA ever since.
Two hundred and fifty delegates from 28 states attended the founding meeting and were seated amidst exhibit cases and ancient bones of a mastodon, "Mammut Amercanum," in the hall of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Pa. At the meeting, the delegates adopted the first code of medical ethics, and the first national standards for preliminary medical education and for the degree of MD.
Those delegates in attendance launched what has become the largest medical association in America. For more than 160 years the AMA's work has remained focused on its founding principles. Today, the AMA represents the best of American medicine and continues to serve as an advocate for the physician, the patient and the profession.